Over 20 Years of Health Research

Since 1997, the Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) has been collaborating with elite scientists to help study the health benefits of wild blueberries. WBANA is dedicated to furthering research that explores the health potential of wild blueberries and annually funds research studies that help advance the understanding of the nutritional and human health benefits of wild blueberries.

Each year, WBANA has hosts the Wild Blueberry Health Research Summit in Bar Harbor, Maine, a worldwide gathering of renowned scientists and researchers from leading institutions representing broad disciplines — from cardiovascular health to cancer to heart disease, osteoporosis, neurological diseases of aging, and more. Their work is leading the way to learn more about the health benefits of wild blueberries, and their findings, which use rigorous methodology, are documented in a growing number of published studies on the potential health and disease-fighting benefits of wild blueberries. All published research studies are written by and submitted to peer-reviewed journals by the researcher, independent of WBANA.

Below are scientific research papers that provide more detail into the role wild blueberries may play in promoting human health.

Rabbiteye blueberry postharvest fruit quality and stimulation of ethylene production by 1-methylcyclopropene

MacLean, D. D.; NeSmith, D. S.
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A postharvest 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) treatment was evaluated for its ability to maintain firmness and delay ripening of rabbiteye blueberries. 3 cultivars, Austin, Brightwell and Premier, were harvested by hand from the UGA Alapaha Blueberry Farm and treated overnight with 1 μl l—1 1-MCP as field heat was being removed (0–1°C, 90–95% RH). Fruit were evaluated for firmness, TSS, total acidity (TA), ethylene production and other quality attributes at 0, 1 and 2 wk after harvest as well as 1 or 4 days post-removal evaluations at room temp. (approx. 21°C). In general, 1-MCP treatment resulted in the stimulation of ethylene production in all 3 cultivars but had minimal effect on TSS and TA content. Furthermore, the treatment resulted in an accelerated loss of firmness in Brightwell. The lack of inhibition of fruit ripening likely related to the fact that blueberries were harvested, and subsequently treated with 1-MCP, at a post-climacteric stage of development. Based on current results, it is suggested that more information may be required regarding ethylene production during rabbiteye blueberry fruit maturation before establishing a 1-MCP treatment recommendation for use by the rabbiteye blueberry industry.


Postharvest shelf life extension of blueberries using a biodegradable package

Almenar, E.; Samsudin, H.; Auras, R.; Harte, B.; Rubino, M.
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Small berries are commonly packaged and sold to consumers in vented petroleum-based clamshell containers. Biodegradable and compostable packages may be used as an alternative package to reduce waste generation and landfill disposal. In addition, the current clamshell container design does not allow the development of a modified atmosphere that could prolong berry shelf life. Thus, in this study, a non-ventilated biodegradable container was evaluated as a possible alternative to the containers normally used in commercial distribution of small berries. To determine the potential of biodegradable containers for small berries, highbush blueberries were packaged in polylactide (PLA) containers and stored at 10°C for 18 days and at 23°C for 9 days. Commercial vented clamshell containers were used as controls. Physicochemical and microbiological studies were carried out in order to compare the efficacy of both packages. Results showed that the PLA containers prolonged blueberry shelf life at different storage temperatures. All rights reserved, Elsevier.


Effect of a simple chlorine dioxide method for controlling five foodborne pathogens, yeasts and molds on blueberries

Wu, V. C.; Kim, B.
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The effect of aqueous chlorine dioxide (ClO(2)) on controlling foodborne pathogens, yeasts, and molds on blueberries was studied. Five pathogens were spot-inoculated on the skin of blueberries. A sachet containing necessary chemicals for generation of ClO(2) was used to provide 320 ppm of ClO(2) in 7.5 l of water. The efficacy of different concentrations (1, 3, 5, 10, and 15 ppm) of ClO(2) and various contact times (10s; 1, 5, 10, 20, 30 min; and 1h and 2h) were studied. ClO(2) was most effective in reducing Listeria monocytogenes (4.88 log cfu/g) as compared to the other pathogens. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was reduced by 2.16 log cfu/g after 5 min when treated with 15 ppm of ClO(2). Relatively short treatment time was more effective in reducing Salmonella Typhimurium than longer treatment time for most concentrations. The highest reduction (4.56 log cfu/g) of Staphylococcus aureus was achieved with 15 ppm of ClO(2) for 30 min. When treated for 2h with 5 ppm of ClO(2), Yersinia enterocolitica was reduced by 3.49 log cfu/g. Fifteen ppm of ClO(2) reduced natural yeasts and molds by 2.82 log cfu/g after 1h. Concentrations of ClO(2) decreased over time. When exposed to blueberries, ClO(2) concentrations were further reduced, showing significant degradation.


Development of Flavor Lexicon for Freshly Pressed and Processed Blueberry Juice

Bett-Garber, K. L.; Lea, J. M.
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A lexicon with 32 aroma/flavor, taste and mouthfeel attributes was developed for blueberry juice. Twenty blueberry products were used to develop the lexicon. It was tested with frozen blueberries that were thawed and hand-pressed to make juices ( P1, P2 or P3) and bottled juices ( B1, B2, B3 or B4). Freshly pressed juices had significantly ( P ≤ 0.05) higher scores in blueberry, strawberry, floral, sweet aroma and sweet taste except for processed juice, B4, which was also high in sweet taste. In comparison, the four bottled juices were significantly ( P ≤ 0.05) higher in cranberry, molasses/dark corn syrup, canned tomato, fermented, processed berry juice, sour aroma and pungency aroma. In addition, all three hand-pressed juices plus B4 were significantly lower than B1, B2 and B3 in wine-like, bitter taste, sour taste, astringent, metallic, tongue numbing and throat burn attributes. Processed blueberry juice had a different flavor profile than freshly pressed juice. Practical Application Blueberry juice offers many health benefits. Blueberry juices are appealing to consumers because of their high antioxidant levels and convenience. This lexicon provides a means to evaluate blueberry juice flavor, whether freshly pressed or processed. These descriptors will facilitate monitoring the changes in flavor during processing and storage and will assist processors to determine the impact of processing methods on product flavor quality. They will also be useful to evaluate breeding and production practices on juice flavor.


Physicochemical and nutritional characteristics of blueberry juice after high pressure processing

Barba, Francisco J.; Esteve, Maria J.; Frigola, Ana
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Abstract: This study was carried out to investigate the impact of high pressure processing (HPP) at different pressure (200, 400 and 600MPa) and treatment times (5, 9 and 15min) on ascorbic acid, total phenolics, anthocyanin stability and total antioxidant capacity, were also studied at different physicochemical parameters such as pH, °Brix and color. HPP treatments resulted in more than 92% vitamin C retention at all treatment intensities. On the other hand, total phenolic content in the juice was increased, mainly after HPP at 200MPa for all treatment times. The total and monomeric anthocyanin were similar or higher than the value estimated for the fresh juice being maximum at 400MPa/15min (16% increase). Antioxidant capacity values were not statistically different for treatments at 200MPa for 5–15min in comparison with fresh juice, however for 400MPa/15min and 600MPa for all times (8–16% reduction), the lowest values were observed for total antioxidant capacity determined with TEAC method. No significant changes were observed in pH and °Brix. Color changes (a*, b*, L* and ΔE) were not visually noticeable for pressurized beverage for all pressures and times.


Rheological behavior of blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) purees containing xanthan gum and fructose as ingredients [electronic resource]

Kechinski, Carolina P.; Tessaro, Isabel C.; Cardozo, Nilo S. M.; Schumacher, Andrea B.; Marczak, L©Ưgia D. F.
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In the present work the influence of temperature, xanthan gum and fructose addition on rheological behavior in steady state of blueberry puree was evaluated. The blueberry pulp was formulated with addition of xanthan gum (1.6, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0 and 3.3%) and fructose (6.6, 10.0, 15.0, 20.0 and 23.4%). Rheological data were obtained by shear rate scan tests in a rotational rheometer, with geometry of concentric cylinders in temperatures of 27, 40, 60, 80 and 93℗’C. The thixotropy analysis was made through the calculation of the difference between the areas under up and down cycles’ flow curves. The analysis of the formulation influence on puree viscosity was carried out in two stages: i) selection of an appropriate rheological model for representation of data obtained in experiments and ii) statistical analysis of formulation and temperature influence on rheological parameters of selected model. Three 2-parameter models (Bingham, Ostwald-de Waele and Casson) and three 3-parameter models (Herschel-Bulkley, Mizrahi-Berk and Sisko) were tested. Based on the values of correlation coefficients and variance of the estimated parameters, Casson model was chosen for fitting of experimental data. The content of xanthan gum appears as a determinant variable of the rheological behavior of the puree, both at short and long times. The correlation among the variables studied was represented through statistical models which could be used for the development of formulations with specified viscosity in the range of additive concentrations studied.


Color and chemical stability of spray-dried blueberry extract using mesquite gum as wall material

Jimenez-Aguilar, D. M.; Ortega-Regules, A. E.; Lozada-Ramirez, J. D.; Perez-Perez, M. C. I.; Vernon-Carter, E. J.; Welti-Chanes, J.
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Blueberry is an important source of anthocyanins, which are highly colored substances recognized for their antioxidant activity. One of the drawbacks of using anthocyanins as food colorant is their low stability. The objective of this study was to evaluate the variations found in color and concentration of the compounds (which produce the color) on spray-dried powders, obtained from blueberry extracts with added mesquite gum. Ethanolic blueberry extracts were concentrated until reaching 35% of soluble solids. They were then spray-dried using mesquite gum as an encapsulating agent at 140 and 160°C of air inlet temperature and 8.5, 9.1 and 9.6 mL/min of feeding rates. The lowest losses in the content of total phenolics, total anthocyanins, and color of the samples were found in samples dried at 140°C and 9.1 mL/min. The microencapsulates that were stored for 4 weeks at 4°C in the absence of light presented low degradation of phenolics (10%), anthocyanins (7%) and antioxidant activity (15%). Final color values were L = 39.87, C = 47.83 and H° = 28.59, with a total color difference ΔE = 5. All rights reserved, Elsevier.


Effect of edible coatings on the quality of fresh blueberries (Duke and Elliott) under commercial storage conditions [electronic resource]

Duan, Jingyun; Zhao, Yanyun; Strik, Bernadine C.; Wu, Ruyi
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The effects of edible coatings, Semperfreshâ„Ø (SF), acid-soluble chitosan (ACH), water-soluble chitosan (WCH), calcium caseinate (CC), and sodium alginate (SA) on the fruit quality of fresh blueberries during storage was studied in 2006 and 2008. Fruit were washed in 200ÎơLL⁻℗£ chlorinated water before applying coatings, packaged in vented or non-vented clam-shell containers, and then stored at 2℗’C for 1 week, followed by storage at room temperature (20℗’C) for up to 15d for quality evaluation. The ACH, WCH, and WCH+SA coatings helped reduce the decay rate of ‘Duke’ or ‘Elliott’ fruit during room temperature storage. Results from 2006 showed that SF coating decreased weight loss of ‘Duke’ after 6d of room temperature storage, CC-coated ‘Elliott’ fruit had delayed fruit ripening as evidenced by higher TA, lower pH, and greater firmness than control during storage, and washing and coating did not significantly affect antioxidant capacity and total phenolics content of ‘Duke’ and ‘Elliott’. Fruit in non-vented containers had reduced weight loss and increased firmness than those in vented containers as demonstrated in 2008 study. Our results suggest that edible coatings have potential for retaining quality of pre-washed, ready-to-eat fresh blueberries under commercial storage conditions, when appropriate coating material, container, and method of applying the coatings are used.


Shelf-life extension of highbush blueberry using 1-methylcyclopropene stored under air and controlled atmosphere [electronic resource]

Chiabrando, Valentina; Giacalone, Giovanna
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The potential of 1-methylcyclopropene for controlling ripening in ‘Lateblue’ blueberry fruit was explored. After harvest, blueberry fruits were exposed to 1-MCP (0.3 and 0.6Îơll⁻℗£). After treatment, samples were stored in air at 0℗’C for 35days and in a controlled atmosphere (3kPa O₂ +11kPa CO₂) for 60days. Quality parameters were monitored (weight loss, total soluble solids content, titratable acidity, firmness, anthocyanin content, phenolic content, total antioxidant capacity). Blueberries treated with 1-MCP showed a reduced weight loss during storage and a lower total soluble solid content compared to untreated fruit. High titratable acidity values were observed after controlled atmosphere storage, but no significant effect of 1-MCP on this parameter was observed. 1-MCP had no significant effects on anthocyanins, phenolics or antioxidant activities.


Effect of hexanal vapor to control postharvest decay and extend shelf-life of highbush blueberry fruit during controlled atmosphere storage

Song, Jun; Campbell-Palmer, Leslie; Fillmore, Sherry; Fan, Lihua; Forney, Charles
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Postharvest disease control has become more challenging due to the limited number of registered fungicides, fungicide
resistance, consumers’ desire for reduced fungicide residues and demand for blemish-free, high-quality product. The interest
in the use of natural alternatives to prevent fungal growth has markedly increased. Many biologically active volatile
compounds, including hexanal, a natural plant volatile with antifungal properties, have been reported to reduce postharvest
diseases. In this study, highbush blueberry fruit (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Duke’, ‘Brigitta’ and ‘Burlington’) were treated
with hexanal vapor at 900 mL L 1 for 24 h either once immediately before storage or repeated after 1 and 2 wk of CA
storage (10 12 kPa O2 and 12 15 kPa CO2) at 0.58C for up to 15 wk. Fruit removed from storage after 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 and
15 wk were evaluated following 1 or 7 d at 108C. Decayed fruit were significantly reduced by 50 70% in treated fruit
compared with the control. A 17% reduction of split Duke fruit was also found in hexanal treated fruit after 9 wk CA
storage followed by 7 d at 108C. Marketable fruit in all three cultivars was 20 40% greater in hexanal treatments after 12 wk
of storage as compared with controls. Fruit firmness increased during storage in Burlington. No significant changes in
weight loss were found. These results indicate that postharvest application of hexanal vapor can reduce fruit decay, maintain
fruit quality and extend storage life. It has potential as an alternative fungicide to reduce postharvest decay in highbush
blueberry fruit.


Looking for more health research?

Contact KIT BROIHIER, resident nutrition adviser to the Wild Blueberry Association of North America

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Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD is the Nutrition advisor and spokesperson for the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian with a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is the owner of NutriComm Inc., a food and nutrition communications consulting company.

Ms. Broihier received a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Michigan State University and a Master of Science degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University.